§ Order for Third Reading read, and discharged.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill he re-committed, in respect of Clauses 5, 7, and 16."—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre.)
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 7 (Terminable annuity to be paid to Commissioners of Woods in respect of lands described in the Second Schedule on resumption of land revenues by the Crown).
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, he wished to move this Proviso—"Provided that no consideration shall be payable for the land forming part of St. James's Park." He had no objection to the site, which was unanimously approved of by the Select Committee of which he had been a Member; but a small portion of the site formed part of St. James's Park, and by the 10 Geo. IV. c. 50, that, amongst other Royal Parks, was, by law, expressly excluded from being saleable. Some of the Crown lands were saleable, but the parks were not. He had no objection to part of St. James's Park being taken for the building of a War Office and an Admiralty, but he considered it a great wrong that the public should have to pay for it. The proposal was that the portion of the Park which it was intended to take should be valued at its present value, and that, on the demise of the Crown, the amount of the value should be paid over to the Department of Woods and Forests. This was a transaction which was at variance with the law, which provided that the Royal Parks were not saleable. He trusted the Government would agree to his proposal, otherwise it would be necessary for him to divide the Committee. The Government proposed to throw new land into 1734 the Park in consideration of that they took away; but he was quite certain that whatever addition was made in this way by the Board of Woods and Forests would be for their own advantage, and not for that of the public. The Woods and Forests Department would remain owners of all the land in the neighbourhood, the value of which would be greatly increased by these extensive new buildings.
After Clause 7, to add, "Provided that no consideration shall be payable for the land forming part of St. James's Park."—(Mr. Arthur Arnold.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, he was afraid he could not accept the Amendment of his hon. Friend. The hon. Gentleman had accurately stated the facts—it was proposed to take a small portion of St. James's Park; but, on the other hand, it was proposed to throw into it a new area, and the Park would be the gainer by the operation. It was true they could not sell the Royal Parks—but it was only as Royal Parks that the land could not be sold. When it was sold it reverted back to the Crown, and they would not, therefore, be justified in taking a part of the property of the Crown without paying for it. The Government had simply followed the precedent set when the Foreign Office was built. In that case a small portion of St. James's Park was taken and paid for in this manner. If his hon. Friend was successful with his Amendment it would be fatal to the Bill, because it would be his (Mr. Shaw Lefevre's) duty then, as a servant of the Crown, to withdraw Her Majesty's consent to the Bill, and the measure would not be further proceeded with. He should be obliged to take that course; therefore, if the hon. Member wished the Bill to be proceeded with and passed into law, he should not press his Amendment.
§ MR. DILLWYN
protested against the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works putting a pistol to their heads—if he might use the expression—in this matter. Unless the Committee agreed to give up a certain portion of what was practically public property, the Board of Works threatened them with the loss of the Bill, The 1735 country paid £35,000 a-year for the Parks; they were public Parks to all intents and purposes. It was said that they were "Crown property," but though they might be so theoretically, they were not so practically. He (Mr. Dillwyn) had never known a more arbitrary mode of dealing with a Committee than this now proposed, and he hoped that the hon. Member (Mr. Arnold) would go to a division in order that they might, at least, enter a protest against the course the Government were taking in this matter.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clause 16 agreed to.
§ Bill reported; as amended, considered (Queen's Consent signified).
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre.)
§ MR. WARTON
said, he thought some further time should be given for the consideration of the exact plan of these offices. He trusted the Government had taken into consideration on this matter the opinion of that eminent body the Institute of British Architects, which was that the Government were not going to improve the appearance of the Metropolis or provide for the convenience of the Public Offices, and that in order to do both the one and the other £150,000 or £200,000 more than was at present contemplated would have to be spent. According to the plan adopted by the Government, the offices would be cramped together; and, in the opinion of the Institute of Architects, there would not be sufficient space in them to provide proper quarters for the officials. If by spending £150,000 or £200,000 more the appearance of the Metropolis could be greatly improved, that would be something, though he did not say it should weigh too much with the House; but when they were told that in this case beauty and utility would go hand in hand together if this additional amount were expended, it seemed to him that the suggestion was worthy of their most careful consideration. He trusted the 1736 right hon. Gentleman would consider this point. If he (Mr. Warton) had known the right hon. Gentleman had been going to press on his Bill so fast, he should have brought forward some proposal in the direction he had indicated.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, what he had promised was that further opportunity should be given for consideration when it was proposed to erect the buildings. The present Bill was merely to acquire the site, and he thought everybody would admit that the acquisition of the site was desirable and necessary. He hoped the hon. Gentleman would not object to the third reading, for he would have an opportunity of raising the question hereafter.
§ Motion agreed to.